Audiovisual Accessioning

A current trend in the archival field is “Accessioning as Processing,” based upon Mark A. Greene and Dennis Meissner’s article, “More Product, Less Process.” Dubbed “MPLP” for short, this topic remains prickly in the a/v world - and I am going to steer far away from discussing whether this trend has consequences for audiovisual collections (!).

However, what we have implemented at the RAC is a form of “Accessioning as Processing.” We’re creating a detailed item-level inventory which is initiated before acquisition and completed during the accessioning phase of an in-coming audiovisual collection. In short, a robust inventory form is expected to be completed by the donor prior to acquisition - listing titles, formats, whether an item has a digital surrogate, prior storage conditions, etc. This information is expanded by the RAC accessioning staff by applying unique identifiers, noting tape brand, playback speed based on annotations, etc. We also inventory previously accessioned collections that are too minimally described, so that they are ready to be digitized.

AV Inventory
Partial screenshot of RAC accessioning inventory.

The completed inventory is interpolated into our main audiovisual registries and can be easily modified for the creation of a vendor manifest, whether we are requesting a price estimate, producing a shipping list, etc. As well, the inventory can be tailored for the processing team to create basic “skeletal records” in ArchivesSpace. As mentioned in the previous blog post, these records can be enhanced (or amended) once the analog item has been transferred to a digital format. This practice allows us to – essentially – complete the processing of the audiovisual material as soon as it returns from the vendor in a digitized form.

Come back tomorrow for Part 4: Access!

This is a post in a series: Reflection: A Year in the Life of an Audiovisual Archivist